Julian Alvarez may be confirmed ahead of Monday night’s transfer deadline, but don’t expect many more Manchester City appearances on Sky Sports News’ yellow ticker in the coming days.
Álvarez appears to be a solid signing, but he is one for the future, as he will remain at River Plate at least until the end of the current season. After that, he will not be guaranteed a regular place at City, and the club will go ahead with plans to sign a top striker in the summer.
In terms of other transfer deals this month, City have sold Ferran Torres, but Pep Guardiola has made it clear that a replacement will not arrive for now. City’s only interest on deadline day might be securing loan deals for its youngsters, with a handful of players still to be worked out.
Morgan Rogers could get a new loan club after a frustrating few months at Bournemouth, even if it means scrapping clauses in his deal that could have seen the Cherries make the move permanent for £9m. A number of Championship clubs are reported to be interested in the England under-20 international, who impressed at Lincoln in League One around this time last year.
Finley Burns is set to join Swansea on loan, while James McAtee is a reported target for the Swans, as well as QPR and Rangers. Both Guardiola and under-23 manager Brian Barry-Murphy have previously said such players were unlikely to move this month, but things change quickly in football and if the right offer is made, the club may decide. that playing regularly in the EFL is better than under-23 football.
But with the EDS team barely climbing to the top of Premier League 2 last week after a slow start to the campaign, losing regulars like McAtee and Burns could derail their title defense at academy level.
Barry-Murphy has made it clear that the goal of his youth academy is development and performance, with the belief that results will continue as they have. Speaking to the players, however, they have another PL2 trophy firmly on their minds, especially with the anticipated departures of the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League this season.
So if the key players for the second team leave, City will want to know there are players ready to step up and continue the good form in a bid to win the title for the second year in a row.
McAtee is the club’s top goalscorer, with 19 goals and five assists at youth level in just 20 appearances. Only striker Oscar Bobb has started more times than Burns at the under-23s, with the centre-back making his senior debut in the Carabao Cup win over Wycombe.
Loans like these sum up City’s dilemma with their young players, but also emphasize their priorities. As much as the club welcomes winning trophies at youth level, that is not the primary goal of the academy. Producing first-team players is the first goal, then comes raising money through transfer fees. The Academy’s success on the pitch helps both things happen, but City won’t be too concerned if they didn’t win anything with the youth team, but provided a constant conveyor belt of future professionals at the highest level.
And that is why they will not hesitate to loan key players if necessary. Because one player’s exit is another’s opportunity. His fine form this season has come without last year’s regulars including Liam Delap, Tommy Doyle, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Callum Doyle and Felix Nmecha.
Look at midfielder Kian Breckin, who has just broken into the under-23 team, starting the last two games. In the recent derby over Manchester United, he looked like he had been playing with EDS for a long time, when instead he has been a regular for the under-18s.
Alongside Romeo Lavia in midfield, Breckin has now helped City to crucial wins over United and Chelsea, despite not having played a minute in PL2 before that.
His example is what others will look to follow if Burns, McAtee or anyone else leaves in the days to come.
If McAtee were to leave, players like Tai Sodje, Micah Hamilton, Nico O’Reilly, Darko Gyabi, Carlos Borges or Dire Mebude could get more opportunities, while Liam Delap could get more minutes after injury in the first few months of the season. . keep him at the City Football Academy this month. Another option would be to push Josh Wilson-Esbrand into the attack, with a left back instead.
If Burns were to join Swansea, the likes of Sammy Robinson, Shea Charles, Jadel Katongo and Kwaku Oduroh could get more opportunities in central defence. Burns is an example of the ‘conveyor belt’ system, as he jumped to the side when Callum Doyle was loaned out.
And if someone else leaves, City have no problem moving up from the under-18s to the next age group if they’re good enough. After all, they won PL2 last season with one of the younger teams.
Therefore, the succession plan is now firmly in place and individual development will take precedence for young players who are of interest. City will simply look at their wealth of young talent to see who will benefit most from a new gap in the under-23s.
It has worked before, and it will work again. If the trophies continue, all the better.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.